Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3 ESV)
Theologians call this “the beatific vision.” We will call it the greatest moment of our lives—to see Christ as he is; not as he was. Not in the weakness of his earthly ministry. Not in the weakness of his sufferings and crucifixion. Certainly not in the weakness of his death. We will not see his glory cloaked as it was during his earthly ministry when God walked among us but looked like any average Joe. Thousands “saw” him with their own eyes and they were not changed by that vision. Jesus’ glory was cloaked. It was stealth glory. Off the radar. His true identity was hidden. The demons knew who he was and cried out, I know who you are—the Holy One of God! (Mark 1:24). Everyone else missed it. Certainly the Pharisees did. The crowds got glimpses through his miracles. His disciples came the closest to seeing it during what is called Jesus’ transfiguration:
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. (Matthew 17:1-2)
For a few moments, Jesus uncloaked his true glory. It emanated from him like the sun shining in its full strength. No movie effect can come close because that light is not simply light, it is holiness and power and divine authority. The glorious Son of God. The effect on the disciples was terror at the sight of him.
His glory remained cloaked until he ascended to heaven. What is he like now? The Apostle John saw him and described him this way:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16)
This Jesus. This fully glorious Son of God. It is he who is returning and when he does, we shall see him as he is. With our eyes. He will be visible; physical. He will return. We will see him as he is. All he is. All his glory. Some will shrink in fear. But if we abide, if we remain true, we can and will have confidence in that moment for he is our Savior and Lord.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2013 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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